One-man ‘Christmas Carol' comes to stage
Bringing a play to life with a full cast filling all the roles can be a challenge in itself. To bring a play to life with only one person performing all the roles is something else entirely.
Neil Thorsen is set to do just that with Charles Dickens' “A Christmas Carol” beginning Friday at The Acting Company.
Thorsen's one-man “Christmas Carol” features the actor portraying all the characters in the classic story. “I keep the same wardrobe, but I do all the different character voices,” he said. Only when the ghosts of Christmas past and present appear will there be any outside help, with Thorsen recording the voices in advance rather than doing them live.
“It's to create a little more mystery (with those scenes),” he said.
Thorsen has performed “A Christmas Carol” as a one-man show since the early '90s, but his fascination with the Dickens work began when he was a teenager.
“One of my first roles in children's theater was Scrooge,” he said. “It was there that I fell in love with the role.”
Many years later, local radio station KUBA was doing a performance of “A Christmas Carol” and needed a Scrooge, so Thorsen took the role.
“The director said he wanted another person to do the voice of Scrooge as a young man, but I said I would try it, and it went over so well that the director said I should do it as a one-man show,” Thorsen said.
A one-man version of “A Christmas Carol” is not unheard of, with actor Patrick Stewart of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” and “X-Men” fame having done a one-man version on Broadway for many years.
Charles Dickens himself used to travel the United States doing readings of his story and would do the voices for all the characters as well, Thorsen said. “He played all the parts and would read the entire story for about three hours. It's a little harder to keep someone's attention for that long, so the version I do is about an hour.”
One of the main appeals of doing “A Christmas Carol” entirely by himself is how it stretches him as an actor, Thorsen said. “I do it because I love it.”
For all the times he has performed it, he still remembers his favorite performance. “A friend of mine had joined the Air Force, and right after she joined, 9/11 hit. She was at Travis Air Force Base and asked me to do it for a private party. That night, I saw a lot of emotion generated by the story, because they didn't know where they would be in a year. That night was when I learned what the story was all about.”
And what's the story all about?
“The message (of ‘A Christmas Carol') is it's never too late.”